Middle East and North Africa

Iran Christian temporarily released on bail

Abdol-Ali Pourmand, who was arrested on 19 October, has been released on a temporary but high bail (approx. 60,000 USD).

Pourmand served in the Payam-e Aramesh (Message of Peace) church in Dezful. His temporary release on 25 November came three days after the release of fellow Christian prisoner, Mohammad Ali Torabi who was also released several days earlier.

Both men were forced to sign blank confession papers during their time in prison prompting speculation that Iranian authorities were attempting to use the documents to forge a fake confession to use against them.

Pourmand also reported to his family, in a short telephone conversation, that whilst in prison a prison guard tried to force him to participate in Islamic prayer and he refused.

Mr Torabi was arrested at his workplace in Dezful on 10 October, and Mr Pourmand was arrested on 19 October. Pourmand has been prohibited from hiring a lawyer to represent him.

Forced or fake confessions and participation in Islamic prayer are two new tactics Iranian authorities use to pressure Christian prisoners to recant their faith.